Lost Planet 3 was the secret unannounced title that was revealed by Capcom at the Captivate event held in Rome last week. Capcom’s Andrew Szymanski showed us the debut trailer during the reception dinner on Monday night, which was followed by a loud round of applause from the journalists gathered from around the world to attend the event.
The next day El33tonline attended a presentation for the new title, where Szymanski and Kenji Oguro, the creator of the Lost Planet series and franchise creative director, gave us an introduction to the game and showed us the first gameplay.
Szymanski began by telling us that Lost Planet 3 is the closest they’ve come to the initial vision of Lost Planet. When you think of Lost Planet you think of a cold, desolate and snowy planet, and Lost Planet 3 focuses on this as one of the core principles of the game. It’s not just about being on an alien world, however, but it’s about being on an extreme, harsh environment that you’ll need to explore to uncover mysteries and engage in the experiences in the environment.
We were then shown a snippet of the campaign gameplay, an experience that left me wanting more and with many questions burning in my mind. Luckily we got the chance to chat to Szymanski and Oguro a little later that day, and you can read that interview over here to find out more about Lost Planet 3.
Lost Planet 3 sees a return to a narrative driven game. That’s not to say it won’t include multiplayer, because it will, but Capcom are keeping pretty quiet about the multiplayer aspect of the game for now. First of all let’s start at the beginning, Lost Planet 3 is a prequel, it takes place in the past and is set before the events of Lost Planet 1. Jim is the new protagonist, a working class guy who has come to EDN III to work and send money back to his family on Earth. Jim is one of the colonists sent by NEVEC to EDN III and is told they’re the first humans to colonise the planet.
The opening scene shows Jim sending a message back to his family, and sets the scene of how he misses them but is here to do a job. We then move into the main hangar area, which is a hub of sorts that you’ll be visiting often during the game. It’s here that we meet Gale, a comical sort of character who has been doing a few upgrades to Jim’s rig. You can see from the characters that it’s cold, they’re dressed in warm jackets with fur lining and their breath is misty as they talk.
Jim takes on a dangerous objective and is given double pay for his agreement to do the mission. He heads back to the utility rig, which is a predecessor of the Vital Suit (VS), and which he uses to construct the colony structures and to help the colonists in general. As you climb inside the rig you enter a first person shooter mode, you can look around both to your left and right, and the rig is sprayed down in the anti-icing procedures to prevent it from freezing over in the harsh environment. You’ll notice the size of the rig, it’s enormous and definitely illustrates just how small humanity is when compared to the large landscapes outside, something that is a hallmark of Lost Planet 3. It’s meant to accentuate the size of the rig and make you feel as if you’re piloting a big machine.
Jim uses the rig to open the pistons and this opens the blast doors as we step out into the harsh environment outside – sharp jagged rocks lie across the horizon and dramatic music set the scene. A message from his wife pops up on the bottom right of the screen, telling us how she’s missed him in the six months that he’s been gone. These messages help tie in with why Jim is here in the first case, to make money and give his family a better life on Earth.
Jim uses the drill attachment to open the next area, and we soon see that EDN III has its own eco-system and its own environment, an environment of snow and ice that could never exist on Earth. A storm is detected and we’re given a glimpse into the threats that Jim will face as blue lightning flashes over the escarpment. As he continues, the rig moves up and down to give us a sense of the movement. He kicks open the door, the rig has been frozen in the storm. Jim can get in and out of the rig, but as he walks into the brewing storm he puts his hand in front of his face to try and protect himself.
But there’s something else out there that’s just as dangerous as the storm – Akrids are circling the rig. The Akrids in Lost Planet 3 are native life forms, but more ferocious than ever before. He shoots at some of them, but one gets too close and he struggles to use his knife to take it down. These particular Akrids are shaped like insects and hunt in packs, pouncing when your health is low or when they see you’re weak. As they attack he rolls out of the way to evade them, taking a little damage the screen becomes soaked in blood. Surviving the Akrid attack Jim moves to shoot the ice off the rig. Once back in the rig it’s easier to kill the Akrid. He picks one up and uses the drill of the rig to destroy it.
The grappling hook, a staple of the franchise, makes a return and Jim uses it to access a cave system. Once away from the rig, however, you lose the read-out, something designed to increase the feeling of isolation and loneliness. He collects weapons, arming the shotgun, and also picks up an audio log that plays to help fill in the back-story of the planet. He then moves on to plant the thermal post, which once activated clears the area of ice and also serves to tie in with the other games in the franchise. A large Akrid rises up, it’s crab-like, moves quickly and has heavy armour to protect itself. It’s pretty clear that we need to target its orange glowing weak spot which is exposed once we shoot the ice off its back. Its elbows are also weak but we quickly have to evade it’s pincers as we toss a grenade into its mouth.
Once we’ve dealt with the Akrid we can start to wonder why there are existing buildings here – since Jim has been told he’s the first colonist to come to the planet there shouldn’t be any previous occupation, but here we can see the remnants of previous colonists. Jim moves to explore the buildings, it’s very creepy moving through the abandoned environment as he investigates the older base and tries to uncover the mysteries of the colony. It’s a very suspenseful and intense environment, marking a contrast to the snowy areas and showing us an example of the different types of areas we’ll be able to explore in the game.
New Akrids attack, this time smaller, but they’re tough to face in packs. As we kill them we collect the thermal energy, which is also part of the franchise, and can be used as currency and converted to credits to buy upgrades and unlockables in the game. Jim moves towards the light, hoping it’s an exit, but as he sets towards the rig another large Akrid emerges from the snow. Luckily it’s easier to defeat large creatures in the rig, he uses the rig’s claw to grab and lift the Akrid crab creature’s arm to reveal its weak point, then uses the drill to get the ice off and do some damage. The Akrid pulls back, charges the rig but is caught again and the procedure is repeated until Jim kills it. Another Akrid attacks, this one’s weak spot is under its belly, showing variation in the enemies and how we’ll have to fight them. Jim grabs the Akrid using the rig and then gets out of the rig to be able to shoot under its belly, showing how you’ll sometimes have to use a combination of rig and on-foot weapons to defeat certain enemies.
The gameplay demo wrapped up then as Szymanski reiterated that Lost Planet 3 would focus on the nature of the environment, with a return to the extreme conditions. There’s a struggle for survival and Jim will explore the mysteries of EDN III and help to shape the future of the planet.
Lost Planet 3 will be coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in early 2013. Stay tuned to El33tonline for more details soon and join us in hoping the game will be playable at E3 and Gamescom!